Civic Issues
Under pressure for denying wages to pourakarmikas (civic workers) for six months, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday released Rs 27.01 crore towards the payment of their salaries.

Under pressure for denying wages to pourakarmikas (civic workers) for six months, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday released Rs 27.01 crore towards the payment of their salaries.

The decision was taken in a meeting convened by BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad on Tuesday. 

In the meeting, the BBMP admitted that there were discrepancies in the salaries of 3,385 workers with less than a year's experience and of 2,500 workers, who were in excess of the BBMP's calculations of the required number of pourakarmikas. 

The government prescribed ratio is one pourakarmika for 700 persons.  

The BBMP was forced to swing into action after the death of Subramani, a pourakarmika from Ward 77 Dattatreya Temple, on Sunday, after he committed suicide citing financial trouble. 

Subramani, like many pourakarmikas in the city, had not been paid salaries for six months and he was forced to pull his children out of school because of it. 

However, several pourakarmikas in the city claimed that they have been paid only a part of their salaries and that they are still waiting to be paid the full wages for six months. 

"In our ward, 4 workers are yet to be paid and many of us have been paid partial salaries. Some have been paid for three months of work, others have been paid for two months. We are still waiting for the full payment to come," says Uma, a pourakarmika working in Indira Nagar. 

TNM has learnt that the situation is similar in several other wards in the city, including in Ward 82, 91, 77. 

"We are receiving reports from several wards that pourakarmikas are being paid for two or three months work. If you look at the funds released, simple mathematics will tell you that 27 crores will not be enough to pay the salary (Rs. 12,500 per month) to all pourakarmikas," says Vinay Sreenivasa, part of the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha, an organisation to support pourakarmikas in the city. 

The BBMP replaced the contract system previously in place and promised to pay pourakarmikas directly starting from January 2018. In the new system, pourakarmikas are asked to biometrically authenticate their attendance thrice a day. 

The exercise was deemed necessary to weed out "ghost workers" or fake names recorded by the BBMP's sub-contractors to claim additional funds, and ensure that salaries are paid on the basis of thumbprint verification. 

But even the switch, which was supposed to eliminate the hassles of dealing with contractors, did not bring relief to many pourakarmikas, who were denied salaries for six months.

Pourakarmikas in the city, along with the BBMP Guttige Pourakarmikara Sangha, are planning to hold a protest over denial of wages on Thursday at 3 pm outside the BBMP headquarters. 

Denied wages for six months, civic workers demand that they should be paid their rightful salaries. 

"We continued to clean the streets even though we were not being paid. The BBMP has to ensure that all of us are paid for six months and also make sure that this issue does not arise again," says Uma. 

She also highlighted the apathy of the city's residents who expect the streets to be clean but are unconcerned by the plight facing the people ensuring it. 

"When we take days off to protest, the residents in the streets we clean ask us why we are not coming regularly. When we tell them about our situation, they do not react or help us. They simply ask us to clean the garbage," says Uma.